Lana Del Rey Norman Fucking Rockwell
» Back to review

Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
August 30th 2019


32075 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Man, I'm conflicted over this perspective. I love that there's a more even-keeled take on this and your writing is superb as usual, but - respectively, of course - I'm having trouble buying a lot of the arguments made. For example, although I admittedly chuckled at the quip, "Norman Fucking Rockwell is so apolitical that its lack of politics almost swings back around toward making a social statement by accident", I think this is ultimately untrue. From the very beginning, she takes aim at the sitting president unless I'm delusional. "Goddamn, man-child / You fucked me so good that I almost said, I love you" I took as a sarcastic way of saying, "you fucked me over", with the "I almost said I love you" as being the obviously cynical punchline of the joke. I also don't think lines like "Your poetry's bad and you blame the news" are coincidental, nor the fact that she drops Trump's precise height out of thin air: "You act like a kid even though you stand six foot two." So even if I'm reading into these lines a bit, I definitely think the possibility easily exists to interpret this record politically from the get-go.



As the record progresses it definitely feels more and more apathetic and detached, which is why I totally understand where you're coming from with lines like "as the album continues past sixty minutes, the emptiness at the heart of the album becomes apparent." However, I think that's exactly what she was going for. This album is a resignation, a cool detachment. The emptiness is meant to personify everything about living in the modern era: the meaningless sexual encounters, drugs, and dancing that you mention are coping mechanisms for hopelessness, a lack of a deeper purpose to it all when you can so clearly see the end on the horizon. I realize that's merely my interpretation versus your counterpart - "...exemplifying everything missing from a life that’s had any kind of meaning scooped out and replaced with something worse than nostalgia, with a need for a nostalgia" - but then I'd say why the need for nostalgia? What makes someone feel the need to live in a glorified past? A bleak future is certainly it in this case, which is part of NFR's charm: it's not an album that preaches politics openly or anything, it's political because it embodies the indifference and boredom of what really boils down to a group of generations that feel like change is beyond their reach. So if nothing we do really matters, then drink up, smoke, fuck, and watch the world burn. This album feels like those emotions distilled and framed with intentionally ironic, retro-tinted glasses.

Digging: Lana Del Rey - Norman Fucking Rockwell

SowingSeason
Moderator
August 30th 2019


32075 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

On the bright side, I agree that 'Doin Time' - while pretty in its own right - hurts the early flow of this album. There's a lot of arguments in this review that are exceptionally well-worded, and your prose features a combination of knowledge and underlying wit that is inimitable around these parts, so much that I almost find myself agreeing with a lot of your statements even though I fundamentally disagree about the overarching message. So I applaud you for that - this is a persuasive piece - but just not quite enough to remove from the above hills that I'm willing to die on.



edit: damn, been a while since I've gotten the "comment too long" message. Enjoy this two-part response, lol.

Sinternet
August 30th 2019


20274 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

doin time would have been a good bonus track yeah, agree with a lot of that



rather than being apolitical per se i think it's just surface level and subdued, which honestly is fine

Digging: Lana Del Rey - Norman Fucking Rockwell

Gyromania
August 30th 2019


28301 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

agree with this review the most. good stuff, chan.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
August 30th 2019


900 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4

I don't understand the assumption in the review that she should be expected to be political in her art. So what if it's apolitical? The record aims to capture the spirit of the modern era on a social/cultural level, the complex emotions of watching a world spiral into chaos. Overt political messaging seems like it would detract from that goal.




well i wouldn't say there's an assumption that she has to be anything in the review. the album is what it is to me and that's what i described.



you can see politics in anything, of course, and i can understand why some people do with this (and as i said before, i like slex's review). but i don't honestly see how this album is markedly different in tone or message than the albums that came before it. she's always been this cipher for americana, singing about california and doin' it. you might say there isn't anything wrong with that, but i see a need to criticize it.





Gyromania
August 30th 2019


28301 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

@sowing: "as the album continues past sixty minutes, the emptiness at the heart of the album becomes apparent." However, I think that's exactly what she was going for."



i never cared much for these kinds of arguments, mostly because imo validating something as being bad or lacking by saying "that's what the artist intended" feels like a copout to me.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
August 30th 2019


900 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4

sowing you can't expect me to read that whole comment



to be serious, though, in response to your comments about "why nostalgia?" that's sort of my point. her music seems supremely nostalgic to me in a way that is ultimately empty and formless, something that she chases in largely the same way in song after song after song and never gets to it. so why keep chasing it?

SowingSeason
Moderator
August 30th 2019


32075 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

@Gyro: I don't think it's a copout, I'm just saying that the emptiness is a result of all the things I outlined. It's a snapshot of her worldview at this point in time, which while apolitical in nature, is markedly the result of the politics of our time.

brainmelter
August 30th 2019


6627 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

the journey is the adventure

Slex
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2019


7998 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Some damn good discourse here phew

Digging: Blood Cultures - Oh Uncertainty! A Universe Despairs

Gyromania
August 30th 2019


28301 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i can agree that it is in a way political but not as overtly so. i said earlier that the narrative is there, but i do agree with chan that this isn't the grandiose departure people are making it out to be. i've seen a lot of "this is her masterpiece" assertions and i don't get that at all. it's not so unlike what she's been doing ever since ultraviolence imo - and she's damn good at it, but i wish there was a bit more to chew on here.

SowingSeason
Moderator
August 30th 2019


32075 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Chan, I think that's where the idea of resignation comes in. I don't think she's chasing anything here - in the past she waxed poetic about this idealized version of America - here, she's basically saying that nothing is worth pursuing anymore. "If this is it, I had a ball...I guess I'm signing off after all."

Gyro, I agree this isn't overtly political but that's part of its magic. Too much music now is hamfisted and obvious. This, as a byproduct of the times, speaks larger volumes than any specifically dictated political objective could ever accomplish. I concur with your point about this not being a huge departure musically, but the emotion and lyrics here are a vast improvement. I've had more to chew on with this album than I have from all of her collective discography leading up to this.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
August 30th 2019


900 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4

It's a snapshot of her worldview at this point in time, which while apolitical in nature, is markedly the result of the politics of our time.




i want to see it but i just can't. is no one else hearing how repetitive the lyrics are? every other song mentions dancing or otherwise mimics some phrase from an earlier track. to me that's just shallow and lazy, not a product of anything but a bored person

Odal
August 30th 2019


445 Comments


I don't think this is that much different from most of her work, but I'll throw my hat in the ring and say this is her masterpiece. It's heavy, gloomy, airy, and concrete. I also agree that there's an intentional spaciness and resignation to part of the record, but that's definitely not gonna be for everyone. This is a spectacularly written review that I, like Sowing, disagree with.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
August 30th 2019


900 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4

Chan, I think that's where the idea of resignation comes in. I don't think she's chasing anything here - in the past she waxed poetic about this idealized version of America - here, she's basically saying that nothing is worth pursuing anymore. "If this is it, I had a ball...I guess I'm signing off after all."




i mean when you guys are calling the album political you tend to quote from that song ("the greatest"). all the other songs seem to peddle the same american nostalgia as before.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
August 30th 2019


900 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4

plus "the culture is lit and i had a ball" is a stupid line

luci
August 30th 2019


11641 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I concur Sowing, there's definitely overlap in our responses. I'd like to highlight the closer as an example of how coded messaging does wonders for this record. She heavily implies in an interview that the song is about sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood (https://i.redd.it/g5oomaqhbui31.jpg).

The cultural change of the Me Too movement has inspired hope, but for a woman with her personal experiences in the music industry, it's dangerous to believe that it will amount to justice. The titular sentiment is illuminated, but what's moving here is that the emotions can be grasped without her spelling it out. I can picture a sexual assault victim connecting deeply with the song without knowing the artist's intent. Contrast that with the closer on Sleater-Kinney's record, an arguably ham-fisted take on the same subject matter: "She stood up for us / When she testified /Me, me too." Lana's artistry shines on the closer, it's one of the most powerful pieces for me here.

SowingSeason
Moderator
August 30th 2019


32075 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I mean I don't totally disagree Chan - this is absolutely along the same lines as her previous output musically, and even thematically. But NFR is all those previously lazily chased ideas finally done consistently right, and with more purpose, vigor, and clarity than ever.

I won't keep clogging up the comment section but I'll just sign off by saying that this review is excellent and I appreciate the much needed discourse. Got me thinking a lot about the underlying causes leading to this beautiful final product. Even if it wasn't the intended end goal, you ended up making me love this album even more.

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2019


16105 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Holy shit, very much looking forward to reading this thread after I give this some time and space. Great to see such expansive discussion

Digging: 3776 - Saijiki

Sinternet
August 30th 2019


20274 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

it's not like a complete styistic change obviously but I think her songwriting is so much more fulfilling and poignant



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2019 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy